an engagement story

February 4, 2010

It all began at a little Italian restaurant when David Sanford tried to show me a picture of six T-bone steaks and, instead, revealed a picture of a diamond ring.

Yes, it was an accident, but little did he know that picture would haunt me for weeks–months, even! You should have seen the look on Luke’s face when it dawned on him that the image on his dad’s phone (which, unbeknownced to him, was set to slideshow) was slowly fading from a pile of grilled meat to a sparkling ring. Eyes widened, jaws dropped, the phone was jerked back across the table, cheeks turned red. David, Lola, Luke and I realized almost simultaneously what had just happened. I was laughing maniacally. Could that have been… the Ring?

As it turned out, the image I saw was not the ring Luke placed on my finger on January 2, 2010. A far more special surprise was in store for me. What remained from that night, though, was the reality that a scheme was in play. For those of you who know Luke, you know that as responsible as he is, he tends to be a bit… shall we say… scattered. Thus it felt funny to know he was making these plans behind my back!

In December ’09, When Luke picked me up at the airport for my annual Sanford Christmas visit, I noticed his nails were stained brown. His fingernails being generally clean, I wondered aloud: “What’s that stuff under your nails?”  “I was just doing things around the house.” Though my wheels started turning, I took his reply as a cue to not ask any more questions. The week went on, and, though eventful, yielded no proposal of marriage from the man I have long known I will one day marry. Then came the phone call.

Luke was hanging up the phone with his granddad when I walked into the kitchen. It was the day before we were scheduled to drive back up North. Wondering why he was on the phone with his granddad, I slyly asked Luke when we were planning on leaving the next morning, thinking “if  he says something about stopping at the cabin, I’ll die.”  Now, when I talk about the cabin, I am referring to a slice of heaven that Luke’s grandparents, Cliff and Anne, dreamt up and built with help from the whole Sanford clan. It rests tucked away in the Blue Ridge mountains in Virginia looking out at breathtaking views stretching all the way into North Carolina–the perfect place to get engaged (I know I’m bad, but as I said–my wheels are always turning)! Luke replied “I was thinking we could head out around 11….” Pause, silence. Then: “I thought it would be kind of cool to stop up at the cabin.”

Thus my dreams that night were of the events at the cabin the next day. I didn’t know what would happen, but I had an inkling.

I never would have known Luke planned to propose that day, he was so very poised and confident. We drove the hour and a half from Charlotte to exit 1 just across the NC/VA border, chatting, singing, and obviously stopping at Chick-Fil-A to share an Arnold Palmer. We maneuvered the steep, windy road up the mountain until the car could go no further. We hiked the rest of the way in the bitter cold. It was a freezing, beautiful, sunny day on the mountain and once we got in the cabin we took a minute to warm up before Luke asked me to join him on the back porch, which looks out over all of this:

Then he gave me a wooden box he had made (hence the stain under his fingernails)…

In it was a letter & a ring box. Luke smiled as he took the ring box in his hand and got down on one knee in front of the bench we sat on. He told me he loved me, that I am his best friend, that he wants to spend his life with me… and that I was about to be very surprised. When he opened the ring box, I saw his mother’s beautiful ring that I have always admired on her hand. So unique, so intricate is this ring–I have grown to love it more and more every day. But as he said, I WAS very surprised–so surprised that I didn’t even respond “yes!” Instead I could only blurt “it’s your mom’s ring!” over and over while poor Luke waited on his knee for my response. Looking up and seeing through my tears that he was waiting in anticipation, I said yes. He sat next to me again and gave me the letter from the box. Lola had written it to me–to express her joy that I would be entering the family, to share her desire for me to wear the ring, to ask me to accept it “as a symbol of not only Luke’s love, but mine and David’s as well.” It was beautiful and meaningful–and the ring is an antique! Lola received it from her husband’s mother, who received it from her husband’s aunt. We have since discovered that the diamond is from the late 1800s/early 1900s. Amazing!

We are so happy and can’t wait to gather with our family and friends to celebrate the love we have found in each other. Updates will ensue with wedding ideas, the website launch, etc. And hopefully from now on I will keep up with my blog! I have lots of work to do and a beautiful new Macbook Pro to work on. Life is good.

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11 Responses to “an engagement story”


  1. yay! thanks for sharing. I love the suspense and I like you couldn’t help but be a detective to figure out what exactly was going to happen. can’t wait for the wedding!

  2. Mrs. R Says:

    aww Margaret, this is an incredible story. I am so happy for both of you. so, who’s ring was on the cell phone, if it wasn’t this one? Love you!

  3. Monica Denton Says:

    A beautiful story Margaret. Place a copy of that story in the Bible, I’m sure you and Luke will have in your home someday, so many generations will get to read it. I can tell you’re happy in love!

    Aunt Monica

  4. twofern Says:

    YAY! You’re back on your blog! I love the story of the ring, Margaret. Such an amazing gift. And you’re right, life is so much better with a Mac 🙂

  5. Uncle Joe Says:

    That is the most beautiful story that I have ever read. Of course, I haven’t read many stories. But, just the same, it was great! I’m still crying! I am so happy for you and Luke. Keep us posted on your plans.

    Love you,

    Uncle Joe

  6. peggy rabenstine Says:

    Oh my goodness. I am sitting here with tears running down my face. You should be a writer. That was and is a beautiful love story. Thank you for sharing and I can’t wait for the next chapter. See you in September. Lots of love and happiness in the next few months as you plan your wedding. Can’t wait.
    Love,
    Aunt Peggy

  7. Uncle Jim Says:

    Beautiful story, Margaret!

  8. Jamie Says:

    My dear cousin…this beautiful story belongs to no one better! I love you!

  9. Molly Says:

    Margaret! That is sooo sweet – you are such a fantastic writer! What an awesome story. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

  10. Margaret B. Says:

    Family: I’m so glad you all came upon this story…thank you for the comments! Hope to see each of you at our wedding! 🙂

    Mrs. R: It was just an idea for a setting during the time Luke was ring shopping–before Lola had given him hers.


  11. […] Sweet sleuth-y engagement story. […]


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